Something I really appreciate about Persona 5

I want to write about this game, I really do. I’m about 55 hours in and really enjoying it. My weekends consist of playing this game, wishing I was a Phantom Thief. It’s amazing.

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I want to write about it, but I want to wait until I’m finished it first. One thing I want to write about now is the battle system and that in the year 2017, Persona 5 is not afraid to present players a turn based RPG.

Final Fantasy X, one of my favourite games ever, featured perhaps the best turn-based battle system of any RPG. Persona 5 gives it a good run for its money, with players free to plan their turns and look ahead (although only as far as the next character/enemy) to make their decisions.

It’s fun and rewarding. You can exploit weakness to gain extra turns and pass those turns to other party members. Careful passing of your turn to other members can result in a near instant victory. On the other hand, it can be punishing as enemies also gain extra turns for exploiting your weaknesses.

The game demands you use your skills and abilities and does not look to compensate you by providing opportunities to heal party members all that easily.

It’s awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I totally dig Final Fantasy XV’s battle system, but it’s just not the same.

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Twitch streaming and enjoying it

Hello friends, did you miss me? I didn’t write an article during the week last week as I felt it would be a good time to churn out an article for ‘Australian Tabletop Gaming Network’ on my favourite cards in the newest Pokémon set – ‘Guardians Rising’. However I still want to keep up the pace on posts so here I am winding down from my weekend at my PC.

I wanted to share some thoughts from a Twitch stream I did last week. It wasn’t necessarily out of the ordinary – I streamed a few hours of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – but I will say that I definitely enjoyed it. I felt like it was a good fit for me in that I enjoy the game, it can be played in short bursts and it isn’t taxing on myself or the viewer.

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Letsa’ Gooooo~

When I stream, it has usually been the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. While I do enjoy the game and have relative success in streaming it, I have found the task of maintaining an online account for the game to be taxing at times. It is a digital version of the TCG and as such requires you to work to obtain the cards for it.

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing though. It is easy to forget the user base PTCGO is designed for. Not necessarily ‘hyper competitive’ players, but more casual consumers of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

I’ll leave criticisms of PTCGO to these two opinion pieces by Jay Hornung:

https://sixprizes.com/2014/12/17/mind-if-i-roll-need/
https://sixprizes.com/2016/06/01/further-inspection/

On the other hand, I can just load up Mario Kart and off I go! The game is ‘complete’ out of the box and it has only taken a few hours of play to unlock the parts I need to play the game as I wish to play. A feature of the game I appreciate is that the game has a sense of progression delivered via the points rating system which can increase or decrease depending on how you place in a race online. PTCGO has this as well, but chooses to publish this outside of the boundaries of the game.

Nothing about the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a chore. It’s wild and it’s colourful. It draws on Nintendo’s pantheon of IPs in its greatest iteration of the game. I plan to stream it more and see where it takes me.

I leave you with this:
https://clips.twitch.tv/SingleRudePlumDoritosChip

The 80/20 Rule: Perfectly Efficient

The 80/20 rule, otherwise called the ‘Pareto principle’ states that in many situations, 20% of the inputs are responsible for 80% of the outcomes. This 80/20 rule has a pretty broad range of applications when it comes to considering all sorts of situations. It can be applied to economics, science, business, sports, you name it.

It’s very interesting to me as someone who invests a lot of his free time thinking about Pokémon Cards. I like thinking about principles such as the Pareto Principle and applying them to card games. Aside from that however, I think a lot of people end up wasting a lot of time in ways which are highlighted by the 80/20 rule – myself included. For example email: I regularly need to send emails to colleagues and clients in my job. Occasionally I have to send some fairly important emails, ones where I risk setting incorrect expectations, risk giving incorrect advice or simply talking about something I’m not sure about. As far as my time spent sending emails go, these are the ones which take up 80% of my time.

Now consider yourself!

What I want to call attention to is, how this principle may be taking up time in your life too. Not everybody is like this, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there who invest a lot of time into that 20%. Sometimes it’s appropriate, like scrutinising that resume one last time, but many other times it’s important to remember to forge ahead even when you’re not sure. For me, it’s pushing the send button on that email and reminding myself that it’s better to make mistakes moving forward than standing still, paralysed with fear.

Going back to how I might apply this rule to Pokémon Cards, I can think of several:

  • 80% of your time creating a deck will be spent on 20% of the list
  • 80% of your turn will be spent deliberating 20% of your actions
  • 20% of the top players in Pokémon will top cut 80% of the events they compete in

To name a few. Even though I’m using hard numbers like 80 and 20 percent, it’s not supposed to be very strict. After all, how could I possibly know those statistics? The point is to think about where you are investing your time and think about whether you are wasting it on something that may be trivial in the end. Are you ‘inefficient’ because you want to be ‘perfect’?’.

When I play Pokémon Cards I often tell people: “If I’m not sure between two different actions, I just choose one and if I’m wrong, I remember that for next time”. When I’m spending too much time on something, I try to apply that thinking.

League of Legends and losing in video games

League of Legends and losing in video games

Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss.

That’s six losses tonight playing games of League of Legends. Fortunately only one of them was in ranked solo. Losing in video games, especially when they’re competitive, can be frustrating. LoL can be brutal, especially when others are pointing at you as the reason for why the team is losing.

The one game which really tilted me in that six was the one I decided to play Kindred in. Kindred is one of my favourite characters in this game, but this character isn’t exactly robust – something I was reacquainted with when attempting to gank a half-health Syndra, only to simply pushed back and killed in the process.

That particular interaction really got to me. I don’t mind losing. Really. Having that attempted gank go so far south just because of a bunch of numbers I don’t really understand (try as I might) really highlighted the one true grievance I have with the game. I don’t really get numbers like LoL gives them to you. I don’t have time to estimate and interpret how or why my character is weak or strong relative to other players, or at the very least I’m not very good at it. This might be why I gravitate towards playing tank characters – there’s margin for error.

You learn to make estimations based on a character’s KDA – don’t try to duel the 10/2/6 Vayne if you’re not equally as fed for example. But when those estimations betray you because you didn’t understand the numbers enough, that’s what really annoys me about League.

When I play Pokémon Cards, I never feel betrayed by the numbers. It’s simple maths! When I look at my inventory in League of Legends, I’m met with numbers and percentages relating to Health, Attack Damage, Attack Speed, Armour, Magic Resist and Movement Speed – which then go on to interact with the other nine players on the map.

When I don’t have to worry about those numbers and am left to ‘feel’ it out, I’m ok. But I’m simply not that good with the squishier characters in the game as a result. My best game of the night was the one ranked solo game I played – 5/3/16 on Amumu and although we still lost, I felt useful and I felt like I knew what I was doing when I did it. I was satisfied.

Part of the issue seems to stem from not playing to improve all the time. It is possible to play thousands of games within the lowest divisions and not make any progress because you aren’t actively trying to learn the game or think about your mistakes. When I say playing to improve, I mean constantly thinking about what you’re doing and what to do next, thinking about mistakes, what you can do better to improve, etc.

Reflecting on the Kindred game, I realised that fighting was always going to be difficult early on due to the lack of resistances in my rune page set up and so I know for next time that I need to be very careful when ganking early.

I go through this grievance with the game at times, but always end up getting over it because it’s fun to play with a good group of friends like I do. At the very least, enjoying the esports scene removes the need to understand the hard numbers, freeing you to focus on the spectacle.

Consistency is King

Consistency is King

Tonight I wasn’t home until sometime just before 7PM. Work ran late – I had some system testing to run through on the back of a proposed change to a system at work. Once I’d finished up in the office, I handed in my temporary pass (first time in a long time I’d left my ID at home) and stepped out into night time.

I caught the 6:13PM train from Brisbane central home. Still early enough to be amongst commuters, but late enough to comfortably secure a seat for myself and hit up Shadowverse on my phone. It’s a Hearthstone-esque digital card game with more emphasis on aggression and combos. It’s also unashamedly anime in its design.

After doing the weekly grocery shop (which came in under $40 this week) I set about cooking dinner. It’s taken me a few years to master cooking for one, but I’ve settled on a usual stir fry with sausages, an assortment of vegetables and Korean cooking sauce. It’s cheap, tasty and relatively healthy (I think). Along with cooking, I also fit in making my lunch for the next day and eating fruit – that second activity doesn’t sound like much, but it is to me. I used to get sick quite often until I had a doctor order me to eat more fruit. I make a point of eating an apple any time I am cooking and just like that I haven’t had anything worse than the sniffles ever since.

Dinner cooked, I sit down to watch a Livestream. Lately I have been tuning into JoshOG because I am obsessed with the game he is playing which is obnoxiously titled ‘PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS‘.  A donation flashed across the stream which asked Josh what tips he might have for a would-be streamer and the very first thought he shared was that it’s important to keep to a schedule – let your viewers know when you would next be online and stick to that plan.

I recounted that long story because its a large part of why I stream very irregularly. I work full-time and I don’t spend my weekends at home. That leaves me with very few hours in the week during which I could stream and I tend to spend those opportunities relaxing in front of my PC, playing whichever game I feel like (often League of Legends) and chatting to my friends on Discord which itself can be a therapeutic activity.

Thinking about what Josh said in his stream about keeping to a schedule got me thinking – could I just shake that mindset and start streaming more regularly? Several times a week? I think I could, if it was what I really wanted to do and if I was willing to make some sacrifices. I also know and value my downtime though – the worst thing I could do for myself and for my work is to burn myself out working 9 to 5 and then coming home to stream from 7 to 12.

I thought about this some more – if streaming is something I can’t do as regularly as I’d like, is there something else I can do? Then I remembered that I have this blog for this reason (amongst others). Blogging is something that I can do on a schedule and something I can do when it suits me (then release on that schedule).

As much as I like streaming and making videos, I can do neither of these things as consistently as writing and so as I’m writing, I’ve decided I should keep on doing this, and hopefully consistently as well. Even if it is just a weekly blog.

Consistency is something I think about a lot in Pokémon Cards as well. Any trading card game will feature some means of consistency, be it through running multiple copies of cards to utilising cards which can search for others. Consistency in Pokémon is important because you want to be able to execute your strategy successfully every single time, or at least enough to win most of your matches during Swiss.

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Shaymin is the consistency king

Never count out the value in consistency. Jerry Seinfeld’s key to success was never breaking the chain and look where that got him. I will do my best to take a leaf out of his book and if anything else, keep writing.

What is this?

What is this?

This is an outlet of sorts. Sometimes I get the urge to write. Often that doesn’t eventuate because I don’t have a place to put it.

Don’t say use Facebook. Facebook sucks. Facebook is:

  1. A meme garden
  2. A social network for things I don’t really care for sharing with people who are probably uninterested
  3. An unrelenting stage play of people’s lives. A place for praise and a place for pity.

What is this really?

It’s a blog existing somewhere between a lifestyle blog and a gaming blog. As an adult working full time, I indulge in a mix of recreational and competitive gaming activities as well as, er, being an adult. I do things like eat at restaurants and pay bills (somehow).

My friends know me as either

  1. Guy who plays Pokémon Cards
  2. Guy who plays Pokémon Cards and has a full time IT job and lives in an apartment

Hopefully I’ve set expectations and I hope to do something with this. Expect a blog post soon!